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Dress Code: Presentation is Everything

A uniform for site and service staff can help brand your company and help customers easily identify your team. "Uniforms provide a sense of security for residents knowing who is at their door or on the property," says Paul J. Bettano, CFO of Beverly, Mass.-based Symes Associates, a residential developer and owner/operator for office buildings, apartment buildings and retail centers.

Dress codes also help brand your company — particularly if everyone is wearing the same company apparel. Uniforms also can promote accountability and raise the expectations of management. "Site staff that wear uniforms bearing the company name or logo represent the company and instill a sense of pride and professionalism," Bettano says. "Their job performance will reflect on the company. From an internal perspective, the uniform can help unify the team and remind the employee that he or she is a single part in a whole company."

Promote Company Image

Uniforms must be professional and represent the profession of the employee. "Following standards such as visible name tags and a theme, such as a color, unifies all the uniforms and allows visitors to identify the employees," Bettano says. "This helps them know who they are talking to and their role in the organizational structure."

It is important to have a dress code that is well-received by employees. "Dress codes that are imposed without input and without an explanation tend to be poorly received by employees," Bettano says. The dress code should be comfortable, professional looking, and employees should feel good about wearing it. Consistency is also key to making it work. "Often relaxing dress codes for the summer or for one day a week can be a slippery slope as it may be slow to revert back to the period when it is not relaxed," he says.

Set It Up for Success

There is a substantial difference between casual attire and business casual, and some employees will blur the lines if given the chance. "It's important to have a universal dress code because people are ruled by their individual perspective and objectives," says Susan Gustin, marketing projects manager for Braintree, Mass.-based real estate firm Peabody Properties Inc. "Everyone has a different interpretation of how to dress and why."

For example, some people may interpret “business casual” to include T-shirts and jeans. To cut down on this ambiguity, Gustin says it may be clearer to use the term “business appropriate.”

Keep in Mind

Paul Lawrence Vann, author of Living on Higher Ground and leadership and workplace expert, suggests these tips when implementing a dress code:

  • Decide what you want the dress code to say about your business.
  • Take employee feedback into account when developing your dress code.
  • Consider the type of dress that is appropriate for your industry and your region.
  • In addition to talking about your dress code, put it in your employee handbook.

Whatever level of polished you’re seeking, a dress code can help your business make a good first impression on the public, while building employee morale. The key to making it work is finding a style that fits your brand and your internal culture. 


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